30,000 Gather to Rebury Srebrenica Massacre Victims on Anniversary of Killings

Hundreds of victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre were reburied Wednesday -- the 12th anniversary of the slayings -- as relatives sobbed and a child read aloud the names of the dead.

More than 30,000 people came to remember the killings, the worst mass slaughter in Europe since World War II. Some sat crying in the rain beside the thin green coffins of 465 victims identified after being found in the many mass graves around Srebrenica.

Up to 8,000 Bosnian Muslims were killed by Serb forces who separated men and boys from women on July 11, 1995, and killed the males over several days.

"My husband and I separated before the soldiers came," said Sehida Abdurahmanovic, 52, who came to bury her husband, Jakup. "Jakup was identified a year ago. ... As of today, his soul will find peace and I will have a place I can come and pray."

Abdurahmanovic came with her 3-year-old grandson.

"We have a new Jakup. We named him after his grandfather. They look alike," she said, passing a shaking hand gently through the child's blond hair.

Sobbing women moved among the coffins before the ceremony, searching for their loved ones' names and hugging each other for comfort.

Bosnian Serb troops led by Gen. Ratko Mladic overran Srebrenica in July 1995. The U.N. had declared the enclave a safe area for civilians but outnumbered U.N. troops watched as Mladic's troops took Srebrenica's men away.

Mladic and the former Bosnian Serb political leader, Radovan Karadzic are both charged with genocide and remain in hiding. Mladic is believed to be in neighboring Serbia, while Karadzic's whereabouts are unknown.

Many survivors accuse the U.N. of complicity in genocide. Widows of men killed in Srebrenica filed a lawsuit against the Netherlands at a Dutch court this year.

Carla del Ponte, the chief prosecutor at the U.N. war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, attended Wednesday's ceremony. She has been pressing for the arrest of Karadzic and Mladic for years.

In a case brought by Bosnia, the United Nations' highest court ruled this year that Serbia could not be held responsible for the massacre, though the court ruled that the killings were an act of genocide that Serbia could have prevented.

The court also refused Bosnia's request for compensation that could have run into the billions of dollars.

Every year, more victims' bodies are found in dozens of mass graves around Srebrenica. DNA tests and other forensic methods have led to the identification of over 3,000 victims, including those buried Wednesday.

The memorial center in the Srebrenica suburb of Potocari is a large graveyard, decorated by huge marble blocks on which the names of victims are engraved. Bare marble blocks stand next to the engraved ones, waiting for new names.

On Tuesday, Bosnian Serb police began taking travel documents away from dozens of war crimes suspects and their supporters, including fellow officers who were allegedly involved in the Srebrenica massacre.

All 93 suspects are from the so-called"Srebrenica list" put together two years ago by a Bosnian Serb government commission assigned to investigate the massacre.